Sunday, August 18, 2019

Casarecce, Lemon, and Arugula. Fresh, Fast, The Easiest Summer Pasta Ever.

No one likes to cook on sweltering summer days, and I'm no exception, but sometimes there's no excuse, cook we must. Last week we had a short brutal heat wave here in Sonoma, where temps stayed at 100 + for a few days. It also happened to coincide with a visit from my cousins who live in Portland Oregon.

Things were cool and pleasant when they left the north. The first stop was in San Francisco at my cousin Amys' house where I heard it was cool and foggy. Then came Sonoma, the direct opposite of that. Of course we had certain blandishments that my 8 year old cousin just couldn't resist....mainly Tyrion. Kids and dogs are made for each other and speaking for Tyrion, he had the time of his life! High-fiving (the only trick Tyrion knows.)

So when not relaxing in air-conditioned comfort, my cousin had his heart set on going to Train Town, our local amusement park. It was over 100 degrees that afternoon  at 1:00 pm and we were nearly nearly the only people there. The last time they visited, my cuz was too little go on the rides he wanted  but this year it was roller coasters all the way, planes.

And hey, never ride a ferriswheel with metal seats, in shorts in blazing sun. It gets ouchy and that's putting it mildly. So after all that outdoor adventuring we wanted to eat something light, summery, and above all easy. Which brings me to Pasta with Lemon and Arugula. This is a no-recipe recipe, in that one can do almost anything with it. Dress it up, dress it down, eat it hot or cold. Here's what I did.

Here's What You Need:

1 Box of pasta. ( I used Casarecce shape, but Fusilli, or Penne would work well also.)
3 oz baby arugula
2 tsps lemon zest
3 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs unsalted butter
3/4 cup of grated  pecorino or romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Here's What To Do:

Boil the pasta.

While that's happening, prep your lemons and arugula.

When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to a skillet filled with the arugula,.

Stir it around. The arugula will wilt. This is a good thing.
Now, add the lemon zest...

...the butter...

...lemon juice, and olive oil.

Mix everything together, so the pasta is well coated. Add salt and ground black pepper to taste.
Now for the cheese, mix that in now.

And there you are. Done and delicious.

Grind a few twists of black pepper on top and that's it. This makes up in a bout 20 minutes which is more than enough time to spend in a hot kitchen on a broiling summer day. I even sauteed a few shrimp in white wine and tossed those in. Don't be afraid to mess with this recipe because that's what a no recipe recipe is. A dish that is anything you'd want it to be.

Coming up next, we go back to the 18th century and a grand feast in search of a  palate cleanser.
Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Super Easy Meatless Pasta For a Weekday Dinner, It Even Cleans Up Good For Company.

   It sure has been a while since posting here, and even though I have been cooking every day and working on all sorts of new stuff, I haven't shared anything.  Well, that ends today.  Things got bogged down because I had cataract surgery a month ago, and another for the other eye happens next week. We changed phone providers and don't even ask about that one, it's a regular mini series and now I can find my way to a certain strip mall in Petaluma blindfolded.
   So, back to what's cooking and a new favorite in the kitchen rotation around here. Since Alan has gone pescatarian, he's eating a lot more vegetables and pastas and fish and I'm always trying to make the transition easier for him, which is why I love this Portobello Mushroom  Bolognese. The mushrooms provide a nice meaty feel to the dish, and besides they are also delicious. The other thing I love about this, is that is cooks up super fast which is just what I'm always looking for on workdays. Who wants  to run from the office where I've been writing all morning and get behind a hot stove for a couple of hours? Not me. This recipe cooks up in almost as little time as it takes to boil the pasta water, so here we go.



Here's What You Need:


3 or 4   Fresh Portobello Mushooms,  (about 10 oz) cut into 1 inch pieces
3 Tbs olive oil
2 large shallots peeled and thinly sliced
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
2 tsps chopped fresh rosemary
Parmesan cheese to taste
salt to taste
1 box Pappardelle Pasta

Here's What To Do:

Put the oil shallots and chili flakes in a skillet and saute them gently. When the shallots turn translucent add in the portobello pieces.

Stir them around gently until they soften and darken a bit.

Take the mushrooms off the flame and boil the water for the pasta.
While the pasta is boiling add the rosemary, balsamic vinegar, butter, and tomato paste to the skillet.

As soon as the pasta is done, drain it and scoop out 1/2 cup of pasta water. Add it to the skillet , turn up the heat a bit, and stir everything around until you have a sauce. This takes less than no time.
Now, add the pasta.

Using tongs, mix everything together well.

When it's all combined, serve it up with shavings of parmesan cheese  and bingo you're done.

    For anyone who'd like a peek inside  my kitchen and and interview check out this link on Cut Out and Keep

Coming up next , now that my summer crop is finally coming in, some fun with my Indian Garden and summer vegetables Indian style. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Thursday, May 23, 2019

A Perfect Recipe For This Summer Barbeque Season, Fish Tikka.

One of the first dishes I ever made for company dinners when I first started cooking Indian food, nearly 30 years ago was Tandoori Chicken. It  was the perfect  intro to anyone not used to eating Indian cuisine because who doesn't like grilled stuff on sticks????  Now that we finally seem done with the rain and atmospheric rivers that have been passing over us for the past 4 months, it's time to get ready for outdoor cookout season, and this Fish Tikka recipe is one that's going to get a lot of use at our house.
Since Alan has moved from being a stone carnivore to a pescetarian/vegetarian (yeah he eats fish) I've been cooking a lot more fish, and Fish Tikka is very reminiscent of all the fish tacos we used to eat at roadside places when we lived in Malibu, especially the Reel Inn.

Nothing like a couple of writers escaping the office  at lunch to sit at a picnic table off PCH enjoying the  Taco Tuseday $.2.00 Fish tacos.
So, okay, fish tacos, tandoori, and tikka. What's the difference? Well, Fish Tacos are tacos, while Tandoori Chicken or fish is served whole, after being cooked in a tandoor oven. Fish or Chicken Tikka are small pieces of meat or fish, marinated  just as tandoori dishes are, but  here's the difference, tikka is then threaded onto a skewer and grilled. It can also be made in the oven under the broiler, which is what I did on the cold and rainy day that I made these. This is a simple recipe, a rather quick marinade and then you hit the grill or the broiler, so here we go.

Here's What You Need:


The Fish

1 lb of firm fish cut into cubes. Remember you're going to be threading this on skewers so use a fish that holds up on the grill. I used snapper for this.

The Marinade

1 cup of thick whole plain yogurt
4 Tbs of vegetable oil
1 medium onion  ground into a paste
1 Tbs of fresh ginger ground into paste
1 Tbs of shallot or garlic ground into paste
4 Tbs fresh lemon juice food coloring
 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 Tbs dried mango powder aka Amchur powder (this is optional so if you can;t find it don't worry)

Here's What To Do: 

Mix all these ingredients together in a large bowl.

add the pieces of fish to the marinade.

Cover the bowl and pop it into the fridge for at least 1 hour. If you can let it soak for a longer period that only makes it better, but 1 hour minimum.

While the fish is marinating, soak your skewers (if they are wood) in warm water for about 30 minutes. If you are using metal skewers skip that part

 Ready To Grill

Thread the fish onto the skewers.

QWhen they are threaded up and ready, lay the skewers across a pyrex baking dish like this.

Slide the whole thing under the broiler and cook for anywhere from 3 to 6 minutes or until you get that nice charred look.

Serve the fish skewers on a plate with a squeeze of lemon juice, some chapattis and a cilantro chutney.

If you make your marinde the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight, you're golden, and you can have this dish on the table in minutes. Even if you decide to make it at the last minute, it still comes together quickly. Just slip the fish off the skewers if you wish, and fold them up inside the chapatti with some cilantro chutney  and you are good to go.

Coming up next more summer dishes from the Indian Kitchen, follow along on Twitter@kathygori

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Fish Are Always With Us......So Spice Them Up Kerala Style!

I always knew I was in a mixed marriage. We were married by both a priest and a rabbi in two separate ceremonies. I've been vegetarian, and even vegan off and on for years. I cooked meat for Alan, but now he's changed it up. I am now living with a piscetarian. Last year Alan changed his eating habits and has now come over to eating more like me. He's getting a lot of vegan and vegetarian meals, his butter has been swapped out for olive oil, and there's almond milk in his latte instead of the regular whole milk. Lots of healthy changes and the biggest for him has been fish.
   I grew up going to Catholic school and eating fish on Fridays. Fish was not a big part of his life, unless you count the sturgeon at Barney Greengrass and even for me, my mother practiced what I like to call Brutalist Cuisine. Fish was cooked into carbon covered with breading, cakes came out raw molten in the middle. The oven was never preheated, one just turned it on shoved the food in and hoped for the best. Directions and recipes? Those are for suckers. Thoughts and prayers was what we used. None of this was accidental, this was deliberate. This was how things were cooked at Fran's house. Did I mention she didn't like to cook? A lot of it was based on the fact that she never thought she would ever have to cook, but hey, she married the immigrant's son her family didn't like, so the money-train pulled out of the station and she got behind the stove.
   My moms fish skills even gave me fish trauma. It took quite a while to learn that fish could actually be fantastic if cooked correctly, and when I started cooking Indian food nearly 30 years ago, I discovered Indian cuisine has lots of amazing fish recipes from all parts of the subcontinent. Some of the best come from Kerala and since Alan was no longer demanding meat every day, but was open to the idea of fish in his diet, I got to work introducing him to some great Indian fish dishes.
   It's one thing to cook on a weekend with time aplenty, but I cook every day in the middle of a writing schedule, so what I cook on weekdays has to be relatively quick and easy. Our main meal is lunch at midday, Alan has an early dinner of the left-overs, or I cook something simple for him. I eat a few vegetables and then we basically fast for about 12 to 15 hours until the next morning. So a good hearty lunch is important. Fast, healthy, filling. That's the name of the game, which is why I love this recipe.

Spicy Kerala Baked Fish

Here's What You Need:

4 fillets of fish. I used cod for this recipe
2 large shallots
1 Tbs Kashmiri chili
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp Coriander powder
 A few good grinds of black pepper
2 tsp of shallot/ginger paste
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp  coconut, oilive or other vegetable oil.
1 tsp  chopped curry leaves
salt to taste.

Here's What To Do:

Pat the cod fillets dry with a paper towel, and place them on a plate.

 Put the ginger and shallot into a grinder or food processor...

...and grind to a paste.

Measure out 2 tsp, and store the rest for another use.

Now  place the 2 tsp back into the grinder and add everything else listed above.

When it's all ground together, rub it on the fish fillets.

Coat the fish on both sides.

Pop the fish into the fridge for 1/2 to 1 hour to marinate.
Meanwhile, preheat the over to 400 degrees.
Take a baking sheet, cover it with foil and brush it with oil.
 When you're ready to cook, place the fish fillets on the baking sheet, spaced an inch apart and bake uncovered for about 15 minutes, then turn the fish fillets over and  bake for another 15 minutes.

I served this with Cashew Rice and an Indian creamed spinach.

   Spicy hot, slightly crispy, lying on a bed of  rice studded with cashews, and sultana raisins, it hit the spot taste-wise and time-wise, and the leftovers reheated up easily for Alan's dinner that night. He loved it and it's going in my regular rotation. I think he'd have started eating fish a long time ago if he'd had recipes like this, as it's a great dish for the fish-curious.
   Next week we're starting our planting for this year's vegetable crop. I've missed the ability to get most of our groceries out of the back yard. We've been hit with the atmospheric river so many times this winter that things are just bursting into bloom, so I'm looking forward to bumper crops in everything. Coming up next what the garden brings me. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A Kerala Fish Curry, Quick and Spicy And Great For Chilly Days And Nights

   For the last month pr so we've have the Atmospheric River pissing on us up here in Sonoma it seems, 24/7. The state really needs the water, the Sierra needs the snow pack.  After drought years, the aquafer has to be restored and all the water we're getting both as snow and rain are going a long way toward helping. Both ends of the California have been weather-whacked, but it seems like most of it has been focused in the north lately. When the atmospheric river parked itself over our town last week, the gentle little creek that is across the road turned into this:

Of course that was mild compared to what happened  at the Russian River.

So, we're grateful things stayed manageable here in Sonoma. The cold temps however demand something warm in the belly, and nothing warms one up like a good curry, especially a spicy one from Kerala. Now this curry requires Kokum, which I usually have on hand.  However I was fresh out, and so used tamarind as a substitute. 

Kerala Fish Curry


Here's What You Need:

1/2 Pound of fish cut up into pieces. You want a meaty fish. I used some cod and also tossed in some fresh prawns and scallops for good measure.

1 Small onion halved then cut into thin half moon slices
8 Thinly sliced shallots
1 Tbs Crushed fresh ginger
2 Serrano chilies slit lengthwise
1 Tbs Kashmiri Chili powder
1 Tbs Ground Coriander
1/2 tsp Turmeric
3 or 4 Fenugreek seeds
2 tsps Tamarind paste
2 Cups of full fat coconut milk
1 cup of light coconut milk
Salt to taste
Curry leaves (optional)

Here's What To Do:

Heat  about 2 Tbs of coconut or other vegetable oil in a skillet or kadhi.
When the oil is hot, toss in the crushed ginger and saute it.
Add the onion, and Serrano chili. Stir everything around.
When the onion starts to get translucent and a bit brown, add in the coriander, fenugreek, turmeric and Kashmiri chili.
Turn the heat down low and cook the spices for a minute or two.
Add the tamarind paste and salt to taste.
Add 1 cup of light coconut milk and 1 cup of full fat coconut milk to the pan. bring it to a boil.
When the coconut milk is boiling, turn the heat way down and add the pieces of fish.
Cook until the fish is cooked through. This takes about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size and thickness of the pieces of fish you've used.
When the fish has cooked through, add 1 cup of full fat coconut milk.
Stir everything around and let cook on a low flame for another 5 minutes.
Take it off the heat and serve it up.

This can be made ahead, and like almost all Indian dishes tastes better on the day after. So, if you're planning on a dinner party, this is one dish that can easily be made a day ahead.

I served this up with some homemade roti

This fish curry cooks up very quickly, and even though one can make it ahead and serve it the next day for an even better marriage of flavors, we just polished it off for lunch. It's definitely going on the rotation at our house.

Coming up next, an Italian dish of fish, olives, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts that's good enough for company but also works as an easy lunch or dinner. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


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